PROGRAM HAVING SUCCESS IN GENEVA COUNTY
13--- "The STEP-UP program helped me improve my math scores
and helped me pass," says Omini Williams, a seventh-grader at
Samson Middle School. "The tutors helped me better understand
timetables and fractions and made learning fun and simple. I look
forward to continuing the program next school year."
Omini is just one of the
many students in Geneva, Hartford, Samson and Slocomb who have been
helped by the Students, Tutors, Educators and Parents - United
Partners (STEP-UP) program, an after-school tutoring and enrichment
program for at-risk middle school children in Geneva County.
Students are referred to the program by guidance counselors and
The program, which began
in January 2001, recently was named Best Innovative Program for
Youth by the Alabama Juvenile Probation Officers Association. The
program experienced a 92.5 percent success rate. Of the 67 students
enrolled, 62 were promoted. The STEP-UP program is unique in several
ways, says Joan Howell, Extension at-risk youth agent in Geneva
County and coordinator for the program. STEP-UP is successful
because of a partnership made up of the Alabama Cooperative
Extension System's Geneva County Office, Geneva City Schools, Geneva
County Schools and the Juvenile Court of Geneva County.
organizations have pooled their resources to provide quality
after-school care and instruction for
sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders who are at risk of academic
failure," says Howell.
Tutors meet with
students twice a week for two hours at a time. After receiving
snacks, the students have a short time of fellowship before being
separated into breakout sessions,
usually by grade, to work on problem areas. Tutors concentrate
instruction on basic English, math, science and social studies.
Twenty-six tutors helped teach students this past year.
Academic help is not the
only goal of STEP-UP. Volunteers also work to improve students'
self-esteem, develop character and build leadership skills.
program also involves an alliance of numerous community agencies,
says Alayna W. Beckham, an Extension agent assistant working with
Seniors Volunteer Program (RSVP) and the Geneva County Retired
Teachers Association (GCRTA) provide tutors for the program and the
Human Resources Development Corporation (HRDC) helps with snacks.
HRDC has also donated a wall in their building for STEP-UP students
to paint a mural, representing the activities of the STEP-UP
program," Beckham says.
Local churches, a public
library and an adult day- care facility have made space available
for tutoring and other class activities, and the Geneva County
Extension staff conducts parenting workshops for the parents of
STEP-UP students and 4-H leadership and enrichment activities for
In each community, local
businesses and/or individuals donate end-of-session awards for the
students. Pizza parties, movie rentals, makeovers and glamour photos
are just a few of the awards donated.
Parents are pleased with
the program. One parent said STEP-UP had helped her son
tremendously. She said his grades improved a lot, and she
appreciated the tutors volunteering their time to help the students
Another parent said she
was very thankful for the program. "It's helping my daughter
feel good about herself, and she's learning and understanding her
schoolwork much better."
The STEP-UP program was
created from a grant awarded by the Geneva County and Geneva City
School systems. It was later expanded and enhanced by a second grant
from the State Department of Education. The program is funded
through March 2002.
years are critical ones for students who are struggling in the
classroom," says Howell. "Many of these students are just
looking forward to their 16th birthday, when they can
legally drop out of school. If the STEP-UP can give these frustrated
students the help they need to pass, many of them will be encouraged
to continue into high school and graduate."
The program hopes
to double enrollment next school year. "In order to do that, we
will need at least 10 or more new volunteers and more space for
classrooms," says Beckham. Anyone interested in being a
volunteer or donating classroom space should contact Beckham or
Howell at the Geneva County Extension Office by calling (334)
SOURCE: Alayna Beckham,
Extension Agent Assistant, Alabama Cooperative Extension System
Geneva County Office, (334) 684-2484